NJBA to Mount Full Court Press Against Royalties


NJBA / New Jersey Broadcasters AssociationAccording to the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, the Local Radio Freedom Act is being re-introduced in Congress, and it is supporting it not just for member station but for their audiences as well.

Representatives Michael Conaway (R-TX) and Gene Green (D-TX) have reintroduced the legislation.

In its last go-around in the House, it picked up more than half of all House members as co-sponsors, an impressive total that theoretically would prevent any bill calling for the imposition of a performance royalty on radio stations to be blocked.

The New Jersey Broadcasters Association (NJBA) has been working diligently with our Congressmen and Senators in Washington to gain their support of the Local Radio Freedom Act and we will be visiting with our Congressional Delegation once again next week to highlight the fundamental importance of their supporting the Local Radio Freedom Act to protect their constituents. We are very hopeful that our representatives will once again join the growing list of co-sponsors.

Here is part of NJBA’s statement on the topic:

Nowhere is the defeat of the Performance Tax more important than in New Jersey. Time and again, our local radio broadcasters have proven their unmatched dedication to the audiences they serve in times of emergency. This reality was once again best exhibited during a regional crisis where the radio industry exceled in their coverage of Superstorm-Sandy and the compelling manner in which radio provided critical, life-saving information to the people of New Jersey, almost exclusively, throughout Sandy’s onslaught.

Real-Radio© should not be compromised with a Performance Tax of any kind! Any “tax” imposed on radio broadcasters will bring a correlating service decline as broadcasters look to try to cover those expenditure outlays. It would cripple local radio coverage, decimate the EAS, and hurt our communities, denying them the only measurable, constant and ubiquitous free source of entertainment and information, especially in times of weather emergency and disaster. We do not need to provide less service to our public but arguably more services. Enacting the Performance Tax will undoubtedly affect radio services and content in a negative fashion.

We all know that radio provides a vital service especially in times of crisis. As first responders and first informers, broadcast radio and TV stations up and down the state work around the clock to ensure their communities have the information they needed to prepare, endure and survive during times of crisis. Unlike cell phone companies that have failed time and time again, radio has remained the beacon of information during these periods where people need information the most. Radio is unique and should be highly respected for its crucial role in society. Radio is a priceless necessity…and it should always be, and remain, free!

One of the most dangerous threats to our industry, and to all Americans, is the prospect of a Performance Tax on local radio. As you know, the NJBA has been the most vocal opponent to such a measure and we are very grateful that our Congressional Delegation in Washington has protected their constituencies and supported our local broadcasters who serve them, in fighting this wrong-headed measure, which is being forced upon them by the greedy foreign owned record labels.

At the behest of the big record labels, legislation was introduced again last Congress to impose a new performance fee on local radio stations. Such legislation would levy a devastating new “tax,” paid to performers and record labels, on local radio stations simply for airing a performer’s song on the radio – airplay that provides free promotion to the labels and artists. A performance tax could financially cripple local radio stations and put jobs at risk, stifle new artists trying to break into the recording business and harm the listening public who relies on local radio.

As the House Judiciary Committee undertakes its review of the Copyright Act, the big record labels once again have called for the imposition of a performance tax. Yet, the value of free radio promotion to record labels and performers is well recognized. For more than 80 years, record labels and performers have thrived from radio airplay – which provides free promotion for their music, concerts and merchandise. Free local broadcast radio touches more than 240 million listeners a week, a number that dwarfs the reach of both Internet and satellite radio.

Today, the big record labels are struggling to adapt their business model to the digital age and are seeking to recoup revenues on the backs of local radio stations that are, ironically, their greatest promotional tool. Contrary to its supporters’ representations, the performance tax is less about establishing a free market to compensate artists, and more about rewarding the record labels by funneling potentially billions of dollars to these companies, many of which are based overseas.

In actuality, under prior performance tax proposals, 50 percent of the fee would go straight into the pockets of the record labels, and broadcasters would be forced to negotiate with a single monopoly entity – SoundExchange – that would effectively control the rights to every sound recording.

In that regard, the NJBA is very pleased to see that U.S. Representatives Michael Conaway (R-Texas) and Gene Green (D-Texas) have reintroduced the Local Radio Freedom Act (Last Congress known as H. Con. Res. 16), a resolution which would oppose any new fees, taxes or royalties for music played on free broadcast radio stations. A companion resolution was introduced by  Sens. John Barrasso (WY) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND).